Literacy Resources for Families

Resources prepared by Janine Schaub,

Literacy Coach, Toronto District School Board

What you’ll find below:

  • Tips for reading you’re your child
  • Encouraging reading and writing in your home
  • Literacy activities to do with your family
  • Online resources for literacy

What to do when you come to a word you don’t know:

As children learn to read independently, they learn many reading strategies. Good readers use a variety of strategies and can choose the right strategy at the right time. Try some of the following strategies with your child. Help your child know what to do when he or she comes to a word he or she does not know.

  • Reread
  • Sound out the word
  • Skip the word or come back to it
  • Study the pictures
  • Read ahead for information
  • Guess or predict what the word is
  • Use the first letter of a word to make a guess or prediction
  • Use the first two letters of a word to make a guess or prediction
  • Substitute another word that means the same thing
  • Find smaller words or known parts inside larger words
  • Listen to yourself read and make changes
  • Ask someone for help

Before reading with your child:

  • Talk about the cover, the title and the pictures
  • Predict what the book will be about or what will happen in the story
  • Go over new vocabulary

Strategies to use while reading with your child:

  • Tell your child the word beginning with the first sound
  • Have your child read the last word of each sentence
  • Have your child read one line and then you read the next
  • Read a line, or paragraph and then have your child read it again
  • If your child substitutes a word that means the same as the missed word, let your child continue reading uninterrupted
  • Limit your interruptions of your child’s reading with questions or comments. Read first. Discuss later.

After reading with your child:


What happened in the story?

What was your favourite part?

I noticed that…


This reminds me of…

I remember when…

It makes me think of…

(You want your child to relate to the ideas in the book using their own experience or thoughts.)


I wonder if…

Now I want to know…

What do you think about…?

Why might…

Encourage reading at home:


  • Read with—not just to—your child every day in any language
  • Make reading a social occasion by sitting together in a comfy spot, joking, asking and answering questions
  • Have books, magazines, and other reading materials for your child and for yourself. Reading materials can be bought, traded with other parents, found at yard sales, or borrowed form the library. Many resources are available online
  • Put a limit on television viewing and video game playing. Family time, homework, chores, and friends come first.
  • Support your child’s choice of books but do not be afraid to make suggestions. Both you and your child should discuss what is being read in your home.
  • Let your child see you reading for pleasure.
  • Suggest books that appeal to your child’s interests
  • Point out print all around you. Look at street signs, grocery store label, posters
  • Read recipes and cook them together
  • Make scrapbooks
  • Read something together and discuss it
  • Praise your child for reading

Encouraging writing at home:

  • Let your children watch when you fill out forms, pay bills, write birthday cards, notes, letters, emails
  • Let your children help when you are writing a letter to a friend by adding a word, sentence or a picture. Ask their advice
  • Allow your child to dictate an email to a family member
  • Allow your child to make up the shopping list
  • Allow your child to pretend to write. This is a beginning stage of writing
  • Make sure there is plenty of lined paper and blank paper in your home
  • Make sure there are sharp pencils, pens, crayons and markers in a convenient spot for everyone in your home to use
  • Write something together with your child

Online Reading and Writing Resources for Parents:


The above link is for a 28-page guide “Helping your child with reading and writing,” for parents K-6 put out by the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat. Some of the pertinent topics include:


How Can I Help My Child?

What Tips Can I Use?

Help Your Child Understand

What He or She Reads

Talk With Your Child

Make Reading Enjoyable

Encourage Your Child to Write

Bring Literacy to Life through the Arts

Be a Positive Role Model

Bring “Critical Literacy” Into Your Home


Canadian Children’s Book Centre



Canadian Children’s Storybooks Online



Reading is Fundamental- Parent Resource



Reading Lady Homepage



Actors reading great books out loud. Activities as well.



A web-based literacy initiative for boys.



The Canadian Literature Web Guide




Literacy Activities for Families to Enjoy at Home and On the Run

  1. Bake a favourite recipe.
  2. Tell a story about growing up.
  3. Tell the story of your birth.
  4. Write out a phone message for a member of your family.
  5. When you are travelling with your parent or guardian, give the directions.
  6. Tell a traditional story about your culture.
  7. Put a message on a sticky note and place it on the fridge for your parent or guardian.
  8. Look at family photographs and tell stories together.
  9. Make up stories when you are travelling together.
  10. Make a scrapbook about something that interests you.
  11. Play cards.
  12. Play board games.
  13. Read poetry/write poetry.
  14. Make up tongue twisters.
  15. Look up words you don’t know in a dictionary or an online dictionary together.
  16. Read a news story out loud and have a talk about what you think about it.
  17. Learn a song. Teach it to your parent or guardian.
  18. Write an email together to a friend or family member.
  19. Get some refrigerator word magnets and play with them.
  20. Write a thank you card together.
  21. Watch a TV show together and talk about the main idea.
  22. Watch a movie and see whether you can summarize it in just five sentences.
  23. Read a book together and then watch a movie version. Talk about the differences between the versions.
  24. Write out the family shopping list.
  25. When you are travelling together, point out street signs, ads and other text that is interesting.
  26. Read computer manual or online instructions together.
  27. Put something together that comes with plans.
  28. Read something while thinking about the author’s message.
  29. Write a letter to yourself to help you think through a problem.
  30. “Read between the lines” and see if you can make an inference about the way someone in your family is behaving. (Example: “Based on the fact that you are rushing around the house frantically looking in every drawer, I’m going to infer that you’ve lost your keys again, Dad.”)
  31. Make a connection between an idea in a book and something from your own experience.
  32. Give a five minute summary of a book you recently enjoyed to a friend but remember not to ruin the story by giving away the ending!
  33. Learn a favourite poem off by heart and recite it to a member of your family.